Seattle Software Developers


Pugetworks Blog Archive!

Making Gradients Along a Path in Photoshop and Illustrator

In Photoshop

It's easy enough to apply a simple gradient to a shape or vector path in Photoshop. You can use the gradient tool, or apply a blending layer. You can apply linear gradients, radial gradients, simple gradients and more complicated ones. You can also apply a gradient to the interior of a shape, but it's slightly less obvious how to do this. Here's the easiest way I know of.

Tutorial Image

  1. Begin with your shape, in its own layer. Select that layer in the layers panel.
  2. Apply a stroke: Right click on the layer, select Blending Options... then Stroke. Another way to do this: in the file menu, select Layer ►Layer Style ►Stroke...
  3. In the Stroke dialog, apply the gradient by selecting Position: Inside, Fill Type: Gradient, and (the most important part) Style: Shape Burst. Choose your own gradient, and adjust the size of the stroke to suit your needs.

In Illustrator

The process for making these path gradients in Illustrator is more complicated, but also more versatile. It involves making the gradient out of a blend, turning that blend into a brush, and applying the brush to just about anything you want.

  1. Make a blend. The blend will be your gradient, so adjust it accordingly. Also, the width of the blend will become the width of the stroke when you're done.
  2. Select your blend, and drag it into the Brushes palette. When you do, the New Brush dialog pops up.
    1. Select "Art Brush" then click OK.
    2. In the next dialog, make sure "Stretch to Fit Stroke Length" is selected, then click OK. A new brush has been created.
  3. Now, whenever you select a stroke you want your gradient applied to, just click the new brush you created and it will be made for you.